Asharq Al-awsat English Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper

Trump Denies Seeking to Negotiate with Iran

Trump Denies Seeking to Negotiate with Iran

Tuesday, 21 May, 2019 - 06:00
File photo of US President Donald Trump
Washington - Heba El Koudsy
US President Donald Trump has denied that he was ready to negotiate with Iran, saying Tehran should take the first step.

"If they call we will certainly negotiate, but that is going to be up to them," Trump told reporters on Monday. "I only want them to call if they are ready."

Top national security officials are heading to Capitol Hill on Tuesday to brief Congress over Trump's tough talk on Iran.

The administration is sending Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan and other top brass, including Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of staff, for closed-door briefings with both the House and Senate.

A Congressional assistant told Asharq Al-Awsat that Trump's national security adviser John Bolton will not take part in the briefings.

Trump vowed, in a wide-ranging interview with Fox News on Sunday night, not to let Iran get nuclear weapons - but reiterated his reluctance to go to war.

"I will not let Iran have nuclear weapons," he told his interviewer.

“I’m not somebody that wants to go into war, because war hurts economies, war kills people most importantly -- by far most importantly," he said.

Trump reiterated that reinstating sanctions on Iran has “devastated” the country “from the standpoint of the economy.”

Relations between Washington and Tehran plummeted a year ago when Trump pulled out of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and imposed tough sanctions.

Many of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates have pledged to re-enter the deal. Among them are former Vice President Joe Biden and Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

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